Immoral Free Speech

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Why is it then whenever these cable news talk shows bring someone on to defend Ward Churchill for his immoral statements, all they say is that he has a right to say what he wants, because free speech is what the university community is about. If he's going to say that anyone who carries out any sort of bureaucratic job is a Nazi, then he's just wrong, both factually and morally. To say that he has a right to say it given the right to free speech misses the point. His detractors aren't saying he has no right to say it, though some say he shouldn't be using taxpayer money to do it. His detractors are saying the claims themselves are immoral. To defend him, you need to defend those claims, and you have to argue that he's morally right to say such things.

You can have a legal right to do something that's immoral. It may even be that you can have a moral right to do something immoral in the sense that I have no right to stop you from doing some immoral things, but they're immoral nonetheless. The most extreme immoral things are a different matter, but no one has a right to stop people from saying hurtful things to other people. It's clearly immoral, but they have a right to do that kind of wrong thing. The same goes for Churchill. He may well have a right to say what he's been saying, but don't say the reason you're defending him is because he has a right to say it. That's irrelevant to whether he's right to say these things.

16 Comments

Many people have blathered the statement, "You can not legislate morality". There is sense that this is true and not true. Your issue that he is making immoral statements are lost on most people because they feel that since speech should not be regulated therefore I have the right to say what I want and it is righteous. Of course you are right, there is a difference. Our legislation is not only a way to stop people from doing committing crimes, but it is also a statement that teaches the public right and wrong.
Legislation is not only about laws, it also involves ethics. While people may not always agree with the ethics behind a law, the law does shape the public discourse on our collective ethical thought.

Parableman,
Was it specific statements in his infamous essay that you found immoral, the overall premise, or the fact that it caused Americans to be so upset? Rather than just saying his speech is immoral, can you please be a little more specific? I�ll assume you�d consider these questions asinine, but if it�s not too much trouble, please don�t just tell me that without at least answering them.
Also a follow-up question� Do you think it would be immoral for you to say something hurtful to someone else if you believed it to be true, and that the person�s hearing it might stop that person from really hurting others (with more than words) and might even help save that person�s soul as a result? [I assume Churchill didn't say his objectionable things just to upset people, but because he believed them true and that hearing them would ultimately be beneficial either overall or for some people.]
Setting aside the mundane, here�s the same question except pertaining to religion: If someone was preaching a religion you strongly believed was false (and maybe one you didn�t know much about other than thinking it�s not based on the Bible), perhaps worshipping God with a different name that you did not believe belonged to God Himself (although that person apparently believed they were worshipping God, and that they loved God very much, and that this was a true name of God)� would you tell that person that they were worshipping a �false god� and that they would be condemned to Hell if they kept their religion and did not take to yours? If someone else (rather than you) had the belief I just projected on you for the sake of this point, and told the person that, would you consider that speech immoral?
Really, these aren�t questions of morality, but ethics, and I consider them very practical and relevant to contemporary events. Although we haven't been acquainted yet, I wonder how you'd answer them.

No, I think those are perfectly legitimate questions. I haven't read his essay, so I'm just going on what people have been saying.

What he has reportedly said is that some of the 9-11 victims causally responsible to some degree for why Al Qaeda did what they did, which is something I actually agree with. Anyone who has purchased pornography, voted for a politician who supported Israel, or wanted to acquire money in order to be considered successful has done that. What he reportedly has said is that the 9-11 victims were morally to blame for why 9-11 happened, and the way everyone is reporting it it's as if this is all 9-11 victims and not just some small segment of the. The post I linked to mentioned his claim that anyone who takes part in any bureaucracy whatsoever is morally evil for doing so.

Do you think it would be immoral for you to say something hurtful to someone else if you believed it to be true, and that the person's hearing it might stop that person from really hurting others (with more than words) and might even help save that person's soul as a result?

I'm not sure if it would be bad but morally justified or simply good. I think it would depend on the details of the situation. I don't think this is analogous, though, because the primary reason Churchill's views are immoral isn't because they're harmful or offensive. It's because they're morally monstrous. They assign absolute evil to relatively innocent things while ignoring something that's truly despicable as if it's perfectly ok. Again, this is going on what everyone is saying, but it really is everyone who's saying it and not just extreme right-wingers.

On the religion issue, I don't think I can answer the questions the way you've asked them. I believe every Christian is morally obligated to evangelize, but that doesn't mean going up to people and telling them they're going to hell. I do think Christians should be honest about their views on hell and not hide them, but there's a time and place for that and there are inappropriate times and places to do that sort of thing.

Ultimately, there are two issues. One is moral evaluation of other religions. Whether that can be done depends on whether one is following a religion that is indeed true. Since I think Christianity is true, I think Christianity's moral evaluations of other religions are true. I don't think it's any individual's place to judge another's ultimate destination, not only because we don't know anyone else's heart but also because we don't know what will happen with them in the rest of their life. I do believe in evangelism, but again I want to be careful about where, when, how, and why people do it.

I don't see how that's analogous to Churchill, though. Could you explain why you think it is? I'm not even sure it's analogous to the first analogy you gave. These seem to me to be very different questions whose normative status won't necessarily match up and will depend on other ethical considerations.

I curious why you're distinguishing between morality and ethics. I see those as almost exactly synonymous.

Jeremy,
I ought to first apologize for presuming how you might view my questions, and give a little background rather than just abruptly popping in here with challenging views. A few months ago I started looking around Christian blogs trying to help form a bridge of understanding between the religion I follow as an aspiring Vaishnava, and the religion I was raised in, Christianity. About a month ago I had a little e-mail exchange, which I had intended to be friendly, with the lady at MediaSoul, but she was so nasty toward me that I’ve been somewhat impatient and prejudiced against Christians instead. So I’m sorry to have brought that mood here.
When the Churchill issue first hit the news, I read his essay, but I’ve found his explanation in defense of himself to be clearer. It’s here:
http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/s11/ward_churchill_responds.html
I think his points are valid, and not at all unethical. I would caution against judging a person based on hearsay. I’m more interested in religion than politics, so I’ll just leave that at that.
In the matter of the terms morals and ethics, I was educated that ethics is the competition of moral principles applied in life. For example it is a moral principle that one should never lie. However if a suicide bomber asks you the directions to your church so he can blow it up, you should act friendly with him and give him the directions to the police station, and then immediately call the police to alert them that the bomber is coming. The moral principle of sustaining the life of good people is superior to the moral principle of telling the truth; that’s ethics. I formulated those questions to illustrate that life complicates the rules of morality. It relates to Churchill because he said things that were very upsetting to the American public, but he apparently did it to try to curb our imperialistic foreign policy, which he believes is wrong for the harm it does to citizens of other nations, and he also believes it fuels strong hostility against Americans in the hearts of citizens of other cultures and nations. It’s morally wrong to make upsetting speech, but ethical to do so if it helps stop greater harm.
Personally I know Christianity fairly well, having gone to church each week for about 15 years of my youth and having lived my whole life in a dominantly Christian country (USA). However, since taking up the spiritual path of Vaishnavism about 9 years ago, I’ve come to understand Christianity in a different way. I’m convinced that Jesus was a Vaishnava for several compelling reasons (a big topic), and I believe that Jesus' words in the Bible have been altered to give greater political power to the Church, and that this may well have been the most heinous crime ever. God is perfect beyond the human ability to imagine, and while the Bible claims God is perfect, it projects many faults onto God. That’s another very big topic. Different religions have been given to different cultures according to their level of spiritual development, and having evaluated both the Bible and the scriptures of the Vaishnavas, I haven’t the slightest doubt that the Vaishnava scriptures are in a class of perfection that the Bible can hardly touch. One place these scriptures can be found online is here: http://vedabase.net The same scriptures can be downloaded here: http://www.krishna.com/main.php?id=33 Again, I would caution against judging based on hearsay or prejudice.

Anyway, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, and again I apologize for my less than gracious introduction. I had only looked at a couple of your blog entries, so it’s fair to say that I was inappropriately prejudiced. May love of God fill your life.

Well, here's what he says in the piece you linked that I find morally problematic. He calls the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today". That bespeaks of the kind of misplaced priorities I mentioned, treating something nowhere near as bad as the ultimate evil and minimizing something that is very much worse. The U.S. does no kind of killing out of spite or out of a desire simply to harm. It's all done with an eye toward a necessary good, even if the arguments that such a good really is necessary are faulty (which I don't think myself; I'm just saying that because no matter what you think of that, it's clear that the motivations are good).

He tries to smooth over it, but he does admit to calling the bureaucrats who worked in the world center similar to Nazis, even if it's not to the people who actually did the worst of the deeds the Nazis ordered them to do. Then he goes even further and says that every American who doesn't do anything about it is like the Germans in the Holocaust who didn't do anything, which basically is comparing the U.S. government to the Nazis after just denying he was doing that.

Again, I don't think the issue is whether his statements are offensive. My problem with them is his misplaced moral sensitivities. He's more outraged at things done with good intentions than he is at pure hatred, and that's immoral.

I know there are some philosophers who distinguish ethics and morality, but I've never, ever seen it done the way you do it. What you're calling ethics is what philosophers call moral dilemmas. What you're calling moral principles could just as easily be called ethical principles. Ethics is moral philosophy. Morality is the subject matter of ethics. An ethical theory is a view within moral philosophy. The terms are virtually interchangeable.

I don't think your view of Jesus will stand up historically, but I'm not going to debate it. I consider some of your post an expression of worship that I consider not worship of God, so I'm deleting it. I hope you understand. You have the right to worship as you choose, but this is a Christian blog, and Christians consider it blasphemy to call someone Lord who is not the Lord Jesus Christ, so I'm going to leave your comments that are about this post and even your off-topic statements about your background, but I can't in good conscience have my site containing religious acts I believe to be false.

I didn't think you were ungracious. I just didn't understand what you were trying to argue.

Jeremy,

Lord Jesus prayed to the Lord God the Father, “Hallowed be Thy name,” but you censored God’s name! Jesus did not worship himself, so I don’t really understand why you would have trouble with my referring to God Himself as the Lord. At first I was offended when I saw you said you censored my comment, but when I realized that you had only deleted God’s names from my message, and my mentioning that I had to go in order to honor my vow to chant them a certain number of times a day, I just thought it was weird. Do you think God is limited to only one name? That wouldn’t be very reasonable.

Jesus often referred to God as the Father, and in Bhagavad-gita 9:17, Krishna says, “I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support, and the grandsire…,” and He says in verse 14:4, “It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” The names Christ and Krishna are etymologically the same, superficially different only due to time, geography, and dialect. In Sanskrit, the name “Krishna” has a variety of Divine meanings, but primarily “all-attractive.” As He said in B.G. 10:41, “Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” Who could be all-attractive other than God?

There is enough evidence that Jesus was a devotee of Krishna that I can only think that anyone dismissing it must not be serious about finding out about God and serving Him. [Since you’ve already shown the inclination to delete whatever might disturb your religious comfort-zone, I won’t waste my time with an extensive discourse.] Being a Christian in modern times can indicate a political, sectarian person who wants power through the Church (like those in the past who may have censored Jesus words from the Bible or attributed words to him that he had not said), or it can mean someone who lives for following in Jesus’ footsteps. You may have good intentions as a Christian, as Mr. Churchill presumably had good intentions with his writings and as the United States government presumably has good intentions with its foreign policies, but the results are important. As they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I also want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, but those prints may not be as obvious as they seem to you. One should not be so na�ve as to forget that there have been more sinners than saints in the Church. Some of those sinners may well have had their way with the Bible that you apparently take as the only word of God.

I guess I shouldn’t spend too much time writing since you’ve already admitted to a closed mind and an inclination to censoring religious commentary that disturbs your comfort zone. That’s a shame.

Sincerely,
Pandu das

On your content: There is in fact no evidence that Jesus was in any way influenced by anything other than the Hebrew Bible, the political climate of his time (which was more an influence on what he didn't do that people expected him to do than it was on what he did do), and his direct relationship with God. Every claim that he had to have taken his ideas from eastern mysticism fails, because the more obvious background to those ideas is right there in the Hebrew scriptures. The bulk of contemporary gospel scholarship is coming to a consensus on this. You can feel free to challenge me on this, but be aware that I really do know what I'm talking about here and read heavily in contemporary biblical scholarship on a regular basis. I'm not just unthinkingly adopting a view that fits what I want to hear, as you've been trying to make me out to be doing.

On my deletion of a couple sentences: I deleted an act of worship on your part. I don't feel comfortable with your using my blog for your personal worship. That doesn't constitute censoring religious commentary I don't agree with. It simply reflects my desire that my site not be used for worship that I would not endorse. The only reason I deleted your surrounding words is because they would look funny out of context. As it stands now, there's nothing that doesn't flow.

You said you had first interpeted my views in light of your encounter with one person and then admitted you were wrong to do so. I hadn't first picked up on that, but I was happy to explain where I was coming from. You seemed gracious in your admission that you had misunderstood me, and I had assumed you were being genuine.

Now you seem to have forgotten that entirely and interpreted my deleting of a few lines of your comment (that had nothing to do with its point) in a way contrary to what I explicitly said about what I was doing. I explained why I did it, and you have refused to believe me, insisting that I had other reasons. You have also misdescribed what I deleted. I censored no commentary whatsoever, yet you think there's evidence that I delete commentary I don't agree with, something the entirely of my site stands as evidence against (but then you admitted that you haven't bothered to look at my site). People disagree with me all the time, often giving arguments rather than mere assertions. I don't delete them, and I usually respond with arguments of my own if I have any, which I usually do. I do delete trollish comments if they continue on too long, but I try to forge real conversations when I'm not sure the person is a troll.

I've tried to be extremely gracious with you. I was glad to see that you wanted to be gracious back in your second comment. I'm not going to be gracious with troll-like behavior, however, and this looks to be turning into that. It's already way off-topic, and your misreading of me seems hard to interpret as anything other than deliberate, given that I said exactly why I had done it, and you have said that I did something else than what I have done and for another reason than the one I gave. If you're interested in real conversation, I'll engage in that, though I do consider this last comment extremely rude given how gracious I've tried to be, at your own admission.

As an expert on the Bible, would you mind then guiding me to where therein I can read about Jesus' life from between the ages of 12 and 30? Lately I've been reading about Jesus at a God-sister's site wherein she claims that he was in India for at least a significant portion of this time, and that his activities there are described in these books (and she quotes many of them):

Bagh-i-Sulaiman (Persia)
Book of Balauhar and Budasaf (Buddhist)
Grugtha Thams Chand (Tibet)
Rauzat-us-Safa
Tarikh-i-Kashmir-i-Kabir
Tarikh-i-Kashmir
Wajees-ut-Tawarikh
Acta Thomae (Christian)
Ain-ul-Hayat
Bhavishya Purana (India)

I guess it wouldn't matter, though; since if the Bible says that Jesus isn't described in any of these books, then that must be true instead.

Anyway, the puranas are part of my religious tradition, and a Google search for:
Bhavishya Purana Jesus
turns up 742 results. I don't know how that reconciles with your claim that Jesus was only influenced by the Hebrew Bible. At least it should show that I'm not making up stuff just to annoy you.

Sorry if this seems off-topic to you. I guess you could cut/paste it to a more on-topic thread, and leave a note and a link, if it really matters that much to you. If it's any consolation, it actually was you remarks about Churchill that got me to comment here, but what came through is that I don't care much about Churchill's politics. I care about God, Krishna.

The fact that we know little of Jesus' life during that period does not count as evidence that he was in India, Tibet, or anywhere else. You don't know where I was at those ages, but does that count as a reason to think I was anywhere in particular?

Jesus was a Jew, and there's every indication that he was a faithful Jew. Luke records his dedication at the temple. John records the regularity of his visits to Jerusalem at festival time, almost an obligation to the Jew of the time. His brothers seem to have expected that he would do this. There's plenty of evidence that he had the highest respect for the Torah of God, saying not one little bit of it would pass away. The Torah, of course, commanded respect for one's parents, which would have meant that he wouldn't have gone off in search of other nations' religions.

He seems to have strong sympathies for the main thrust of Pharisaism, despite his harsh criticisms of how they carried it out. The Pharisees' main point was the uniqueness of the Jewish people in serving God and God alone and not importing practices from the Greek religion the empire wanted to impose, and this continued into the Roman empire. Deliberately seeking out other religious teachings would count against that.

He would have considered it one of his highest priorities to honor his father and mother. They were faithful Jews as well, but additionally we have reason to believe Joseph was dead by the time of his public ministry, and he as the oldest son would have been carrying on his father's carpentry business to care for his family, especially his mother and sisters. To leave that to his brothers would have been dishonoring to his father and mother. The gospels do have people referring to him not just as a carpenter's son but as a carpenter.

The gospels show a clear transition from John the baptist to Jesus. John knew Jesus well. They were cousins. We don't know exactly what Jesus was doing before this point, but it seems most likely that he was just working as a carpenter after a life of studying the Hebrew Bible, which Luke records him making a careful study of throughout his life, and while younger he's reported as growing in understanding and stature through the process. When he first interacts with people in the synagogues, it's through references to scriptures. Some of the people who were his earliest disciples seem to know him through John's ministry, so he may have known them for a long time, although that's unclear.

So there's much evidence that Jesus was probably just being a faithful Jew for most of his life, being a good son and older brother with his family, studying the Torah and the other scriptures, reading and commenting on the scriptures in the synagogues as would be expected of him, performing the trade of carpentry, and preparing himself for what was to come. There is no shred of evidence that he was anywhere else except for some people's claims that don't themselves have evidence.

As for these documents you're talking about, I'll say this. It might count as some evidence if the following conditions are all true:

1. The documents are within 30-50 years of his life.
2. They unambiguously and certainly refer to him rather than to someone with a similar name, similar teachings, or similar acts.
3. There's no reason to suspect their connection to him.
4. They don't tend to differ from the writings that we know are about him, that we have very good reason to believe are within 30-50 years of his life, and that genuinely reflect the mindset and practices of the time and region of the events they record.
5. They explain his teachings and actions better than the already-existing standard view that he arose in the Jewish context in Palestine, spoke into that perspective from that perspective (whether with divine insight, as Christians believe, or otherwise), and was faithful to the Hebrews traditions while accusing some of the local religious leaders of not being faithful to those. Since this explanation suffices, it seems well beyond all the evidence that undoubtedly is about him to say that he must have been somewhere a long way away that would have led to radically different ideas from what he in fact taught.

I suspect none of those conditions apply.

Regarding the Bhavishya Purana, it was written c.3000 B.C., so that doesn't meet your first condition on account of the fact that it predicts Jesus' appearance 3000 years before the fact. I'll quote from _Proof of Vedic Culture's Global Existence_, by Stephen Knapp:

"Furthermore, the Bhavishya Purana, dating back to 3000 B.C. and compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, also described the future coming of Jesus and his activities. Dr. Vedavyas, a research scholar who holds a doctorate in Sanskrit, said that the Purana tells of how Jesus would visit the Himalayas and do penance to acquire spiritual maturity under the guidance of the sages and siddha-yogis of India. Dr. Vedavyas says that besides describing the future events of Kali-yuga, the Purana predicted that Jesus would be born of an unmarried woman, Kumari (Mari or Mary) Garbha Sambhava, and would first go to India when he was 13 years old and visit many Hindu and Buddhist holy places. This was his spiritual training in a time of his life of which the gospels are totally ignorant. Furthermore, the actual burial place of Jesus is believed to be in Anzimar or Khanyar, Srinagar's old town in Kashmir, where thousands of pious pay homage to the tomb of Issa each year. There is where he settled and died sometime after the crucifixion."

The following portion of the Bhavishya Purana speaks of Jesus:

ekadaa tu shakadhisho himatungari samaayayau
hunadeshasya madhye vai giristhan purusam shubhano
dadarsha balaram raajaa

"One day, Shalivahan, the chief of the Sakyas, went into the Himalayas. There, in the middle of the Land of the Hun, the powerful king saw an auspicious man who was situated on a mountain. His complexion was fair and he wore white garments."

ko bharam niti tam praaha su hovacha mudanvitah
iishaa purtagm maam viddhi kumaarigarbha sambhavam

"The king asked, 'Who are you sir?' 'You should know that I am Isha Putra, a Son of God,' he replied blissfully, 'and am born of a virgin.'

mleccha dharmasya vaktaram satyavata paraayanam
iti srutva nrpa praaha dharmah ko bhavato matah

"I am the expounder of the religion of the Mlecchas (meat-eaters) and I strictly adhere to the Absolute Truth.' Hearing this the king enquired, 'What are religious principles according to your opinion?'

shruto vaaca maharaja prapte satyasya amkshaye
nirmaaryaade mlechadesh mahiso 'ham samaagatah

"Hearing this questions of Salivahara, Isha putra said, 'O king, I came from a foreign land where there are no rules or regulations and and evil knows no bounds. When the destruction of truth occurred, I, Masiha the prophet, came to the country of degraded people. Through me the sinners and delinquents suffered, and I also suffered at their hands. Finding that fearful irreligious condition of the barbarians spreading from Mleccha-Desha, I have taken to prophethood'.

mlecchasa sthaapito dharmo mayaa tacchrnu bhuupate
maanasam nirmalam krtva malam dehe subhaasbham
naiganam apamasthaya japeta nirmalam param
nyayena satyavacasaa manasyai kena manavah
dhyayena pujayedisham suurya-mandala-samsthitam
acaloyam prabhuh sakshat- athaa suuryacalah sada

"'Please hear O king which religious principles I have established among the mlecchas. The living entity is subject to good and bad contaminations. The mind should be purified and the body by taking recourse of proper conduct and performance of japa, chant the holy names to attain the highest purity. Just as the immovable sun attracts, from all directions, the elements of all living beings, God as firm as the sun, Who is fixed and all-attractive, attracts the hearts of all living creatures. Thus by following rules, speaking truthful words, justice, mental harmony, unity of spirit and meditation, O descendant of Manu, in the center of that light one will find their way to Isa, and should serve and worship Him as that immoveable Lord'."

isha muurtirt-dradi praptaa nityashuddha sivamkari
ishamasihah iti ca mama nama pratishthitam

"Having placed the eternally pure, auspicious form of Isa, the Supreme Lord and giver of happiness, forever within my heart, O protector of the earth planet, I preached these principles through the Mlecchas' own faith, and thus my name became the Isa-Masih.'

iti shrutra sa bhuupale natraa tam mlecchapujaam
sthaapayaamaasa tam tutra mlecchasthaane hi daarune

"After hearing these words and paying obeisances to that person who is worshipped by the mlecca's, the king humbly requested him to stay there in that most miserable land of Mlecchas."

(Bhavishya Purana 19:20-31.)

---
About a week ago I began reading that book I mentioned above, _Proof of Vedic Culture's Global Existence_, and out of curiousity I had to skip ahead to the section on Christianity to see what they had to say. It appears that pretty much all of Christianity is derived either from paganism or from the Vedic culture. A lot of the information, such as the derivation of Christian terms from Sanskrit was obvious and already known to me, but I'm still surprised at how the whole Christian show seems to have been pieced together.

One thing in there that I'm curious about, which I had not heard of but perhaps you have, is this Nicaean Council... I'll quote:

"...In fact, though it had been proclaimed by Paul, the very idea the Jesus was God in human form, and therefore, a part of the Trinity, was not settled until 325 A.D. during the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople. Controversy had developed in regard to whether there was a time when the Trinity did not exist and whether the Trinity was formed only after the birth of the son, Jesus. Emperor Constantine was forced to summon the Council of Nicaea in hopes of solving this problem. During the council it was resolved that never was there a time when the Son of God did not exist, and those who thought there may have been were anathematized by the Church. They denounced the teachings of Arius, who had taught the Son of God was a created human being who appeared once only and was secondary to the Father. Thus, by a majority vote, the Church pushed the resolution through and those who did not agree or believe it were expected not to oppose it and to keep their thoughts to themselves.

"In fact it was at this Nicaean Council that all the bishops gathered to discuss what interpretations of Christian theology the Church would teach. This was an attempt to calm the many disputes that had been going on within the Church about its varied teachings. Once this was settled, all other teachings were thrown out and considered heretical, and to teach or follow them was punishable by excommunication or death. To solidify these essential teachings, the Church compiled and edited the New Testament, omitting what was not acceptable and adding new material to justify its viewpoints and fill in what it did not know. Thus, the Church presented itself as the only source of truth and salvation."


The top result on my Google search for "Nicaean Council" reveals a story not at all in conflict with that quote.
http://oror.essortment.com/constantine_rbsr.htm

It seems to me that this could be at least one source of the many problems I find with the Biblical theology, which presents God in a way that appears so faulty. People can't make up religion based on a vote, especially when the 'higher' goal is political power.

I'm sorry, but predicting that someone born of a virgin would come to India does not establish that Jesus was in India. Vague statements about a fair-complexioned man with white garments also say very little. Many have believed gods to have visited them. The one about no rules and regulations is pretty funny if it's supposed to describe someone whose major conflict wit the religious leaders of his time was over their rules and regulations. What you've given me so far is evidence that these texts aren't talking about Jesus.

There have benn lots of gathering of Christian leaders over the years, and quite a few of them have been to determine which of several teachings represent the apostolic teaching. If you want to pretend it was nothing more than a mere vote based on personal preference, be aware that you're ignoring the amount of prayer, scriptural study, and evaluation of ideas in light of what all present agreed upon. Ultimately, Protestants stand in line with the major creeds and councils until the Reformation, but that doesn't mean we see the councils themselves as authoritative. It's only if you believe that the Holy Spirit couldn't guide the process if coming to understand the apostles' teachings that you could assume this was a mere vote, and it's only if you assume that the primary teachings of the council couldn't have been implicit and assumed within the New Testament that you could assume this was a new idea voted upon rather than a decision to clarify what was already believed through an explicit statement as a response to various deviating ideas being propagated at the time. I don't want to dent that there were politics involved, but there's a lot that you're ruling out as impossible without even considering it.

Who do you think that Bhavishya Purana is talking about then, whom it describes as a man born of a virgin in a land of meat-eaters, who would be known as son of God, the messiah, and who’s name is the same as that of Jesus? The historical records of Jesus in the Middle-East from ages 12 to 30 are conspicuous by their absence, but records of a man fitting his description are available in India. It quacks like a duck, Parableman, loudly.

In the Vedas it’s stated that the current age, which began 5000 years ago, religion would become perverted by the influence of atheists at heart who would be born into positions of religious power. This effect is seen in all the major religions of the world. Why should God guide those whose heart is not pure? In the Book of Genesis it’s shown that God’s guidance may not be sufficient if that guidance is not taken to heart. God, by His benevolent nature, satisfies our desires according to our merits, and when a person’s desires are for power, He gives them that power, which they use until their merits are exhausted by sinful activities. When someone desires to surrender to God, He takes away all that person’s power so that the surrender will be complete. Thus it is seen that in all but the most exceptional cases, men’s power and genuine spirituality are mutually exclusive.

Why should it be assumed that God guides the Christian Church only, and does not guide others? I remember as if were this morning, when I was 8 years old I had just been in church and I wondered if God really existed, thought that it seemed that people there didn’t personally know; and I decided that if I should ever find out that it would be the most important thing to know and live by. On October 6, 1995, I found out (as I describe here: http://oppositerule.blogspot.com/2005/02/fools-rush-in.html), and thus I do my best to always remember God and to serve Him to the best of my ability. Do you think God does not guide me? Do you find it reasonable to think that only the Christians wish to serve God and thus receive His guidance? You may say that non-Christians do not receive God’s guidance because they don’t accept Jesus as the sine qua non of spiritual life, but that assumes Jesus actually is that, which is nothing but a dogmatic article of faith.

Even within the Christian tradition there have been so many differences in Bibles over time and between versions that it would seem that nearly everyone would be destined for eternal Hell if some version of the Bible were actually true. The task of enumerating all the variations within “the” Bible is so huge that I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Even in my lifetime I witnessed the predominant change from “Thou shall not kill” to “You shall not murder.” Obviously these have important and acutely different meanings, wherein the earlier version establishes God’s sole authority over taking life, while in the later version that authority is surrendered to local governments who define what constitutes a murder. Are both of these versions God’s word, or only the one that you (or the Pope or the local priest or whoever) believe is correct? What’s the fate of those who take a different version of the Bible as God’s word and follow that? What of those who consider a different scripture entirely? Just now I took a look at your site to see which Bible version you prefer, and found your “KJV-onlyism” essay, which leaves me with another question: Why would God empower the writers of the Bible but fail to similarly empower the translators?

That’s plenty for now.

At least parts of the Bhavishya Purana existed a few centuries before Jesus, but it's not at all clear which parts did, and there are parts that reference Muhammad as well. Apparently, ">scholars think it wasn't in its current form until the 19th century. So this proves nothing. It was probably someone who knew about Jesus who wanted to incorporate him into Hinduism, as will happen in polytheistic religions where there's always room for one more. According to Christian tradition, Thomas had been in India during the mid-first century, so any date after that for this section would fit what seems to me to be the most natural explanation for this.

I have no assumption that God guides Christians only. That's a conclusion, not an assumption. My starting point is Jesus. I believe him and what he spoke forth as a revelation from God. If you don't want to accept what he said, then don't, but it's pretty exclusivistic to claim that you're God and then to say that there's no other way to God but through you. He did that. If I'm to believe him, I have to believe that.

I don't think only Christians wish to serve God. I do believe what the Bible says about how to know God, how to deal with the problem of sin, and how to have the certain hope of eternal life. I do believe in the fall, which makes everyone hate God and seek to rebel against his sovereign authority over our lives. God reaches out with grace to bring people to himself, and he does this through Jesus Christ. This isn't a dogmatic act of faith, because it's the conclusion of much deeper set of beliefs, beginning with my trust that the Bible records a reliable record of what Jesus said and did and a trust in what he said. If you want to see my further reflections on why I trust the Bible, see here.

I'm not sure what your first statement in the last paragraph is based on. There have been different translations of the same texts, with the original languages as our source (and therefore the many translations irrelevant). There have been mostly minor variations between different text types, with no differences that affect any major doctrine. There have been disagreements over whether certain books often called the Apocrypha are sort of halfway in the Bible (as Catholics think) or not at all (as Protestants think). So I'm not sure what you're getting at.

So why is it a problem that translators of an ancient text would switch to a more accurate translation upon further study of the culture and language involved? You're assuming a mere legal definition of murder. As the term is used in English, it has both a legal sense and a moral sense, and the translators of that commandment mean either the moral sense or the legal sense as used within the Hebrew law, which of course was divinely given, so I'm not sure why this is deferring to human lawmakers. There's no way it can really mean "thou shalt not kill" because the same Torah includes a death penalty for certain offenses, divinely declared wars, and deaths of animals for sacrifices as the very centerpiece of the system of worship. That was just a faulty translation.

What's God's word is not what some human declares. You've got the order backward. It's God's word first, and we then go to figure out what it says, and if there's an ambiguity as to which words are really in it then we go to figure out which words are really in it.

I don't know of anything in the Bible that declares so evil fate for someone who uses a translation that has an error in it. Why would you assume some awful fate for everyone who uses a different version of the Bible?

Why would God need to inspire the translations when God wrote the original in its original languages for a reason? He wants us to learn the context it was written in so we can better understand the times he worked in. If you know anything about translation, you know that no translation can perfectly capture everything in an original. If God were to inspire perfect translations, I'm not sure what that would look like. I suspect it's just plain impossible unless you've got two languages whose grammar is identical and whose vocabulary terms and their entire semantic range are entirely parallel. I know of no two languages like that.

I guess those would be Christian scholars who claim the puranas were modern. That's no surprise. Christian scholars look at the Vedas through their own worldview, which practically the opposite of what the Vedas portray. For one, they date things by figuring that if a book mentions an event, the book must have been written after that event, or at least the part mentioning. However, when the Vedas are viewed from within their own framework, it's understood that they are expected to predict events. The Vedas were not 'inspired by God' as supposedly the Bible was. They were personally dictated by Him in entirety, and He is not the least bit bound by our perception of time.

To know the origin of the Vedas, one has to be taken back to the beginning of creation. Here it is, somewhat abbreviated: According to the Bhagavat-purana and others, the spiritual world, where Krishna resides, is always existing, but imperceptible through material senses. Periodically, something like a cloud forms in a remote area in the spiritual sky, and in that area, the Krishna expands Himself into one of His plenary portions, Maha-Vishnu, who lies down in that area and rests. With each of His breaths, innumerable universes expand from the pores in His body, which exist for the duration of His exhalation. He expands Himself again into a plenary portion known as Garbodakasayi Vishnu, who enters into each universe and takes to a kind of slumber. From His naval sprouts a lotus flower, and within that lotus the first living entity, Brahma, is born. Brahma has no idea what this place is or who he is; and he looks around, searches down the lotus and find the stem seems to have no beginning. He returns to the top, and hears the sound "tapa," meaning penance. He understands its meaning and takes to many thousands of years of meditation. In this way the Lord becomes pleased by his penance, and Brahma hears the syllable "aum," the sound representation of the Lord. This spiritual sound then expands in to the gayatri mantra, and then into the four seed-verses of the Bhagavat-purana. These verses indicate the absolute existence of God, the fact that anything that appears to be other than God is His illusory potency, that God both does and does not exist within His material energies, and that any person interested in transcendental knowledge must always directly and indirectly inquire about the absolute truth. From these seed-verses the complete Veda expanded. Thus equipped with complete knowledge, Brahma began the work of creation, and passed down the Vedic knowledge. In that stage, everyone's intelligence and memory were very potent, and the Veda was passed in its sound form. Among Brahma's sons was Narada, who was a sage perfected in devotion to God. Much later, around 5000 years ago, a form of God known as Vyasadev appeared on Earth. Narada passed the Veda to Him (demonstrating the importance of disciplic succession), and because Vyasadev knew that humanity's moral decline would result in greatly weakened mental potency, He divided the Vedas in to four parts, with a fifth part, the puranas, to explain them, and dictated them to written form. That was when Bhavishya Purana was written, although it had existed since the beginning of creation in sound form. Of the Vedas, Vaishnavas consider the Bhagavat-purana to be the best, as it describes God in great detail and explains the process of devotional service to Him.

Also in this time period, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared on Earth. All of His activities were completely wonderful, and He famously spoke Bhagavad-gita, which explains all the essential spiritual truths, the nature of the living entities, the nature of God, the supreme goal of life, and the method of achieving it. It is directly a conversation wherein God instructs Arjuna about his duty based on these spiritual truths. When He spoke Bhagavad-gita, Krishna demonstrated His unique position as God not by little tricks like walking on water, but by showing to Arjuna the entire cosmic manifestation, all of time and space, in one place within His body.

So the Vedas and Bhagavad-gita are directly spoken by God, not compiled by meetings of Church leaders desperately attempting to get their story straight. In terms of spiritual knowledge, there is no comparison. One portion of the Vedas, the Manu Samhita (the lawbook for mankind), makes indirect reference to the Bible and Koran, "All those traditions and all those despicable systems of philosophy, which are not based on the Veda, produce no reward after death; for they are declared to be founded on darkness. All those doctrines differing from the Veda, which spring up and (soon) parish, are worthless and false, because they are of modern date." These human compilations masquerading as scripture actually have no positive value, and only mislead the public with false ideas about spiritual life. Thus with misplaced faith, humanity becomes increasingly degraded, as has been happening.

Talking about Biblical perspectives is a challenge for me for the simple fact that the Vedas generally, and the teachers in my spiritual lineage specifically state that the Bible is not authorized. It's a product of man, and presents falsehoods and half-truths as the absolute truth. It's practically impossible to fit my intelligence into that little box, wherein I, who am beginningless and endless spiritual person, am portrayed as recently created. I personally was shown the same unlimited form of Krishna that Arjuna saw, and in that form I saw billions of my own historical embodiments. The Biblical version is complete nonsense to me. It claims that God becomes man, which is atheistic philosophy. It portrays God as a fool who created man and woman as susceptible to temptation (faulty), and then as a tyrant who punishes practically all of mankind eternally for His mistake. Who could believe in such a ridiculous portrayal of God? It claims God is just, but then contradicts that with its false description of ourselves being without existence prior to the creation of these bodies, failing to account for our different material circumstances. My spiritual master warned me that talking to Christians would be a frustrating waste of time, because they are so locked up in this manmade fairy tale called the Bible, having no idea whatsoever of who God actually is. By wishful thinking they imagine a saintly man to be God Himself, insist on their futile attempt to dump their virtually unlimited supply of sins on him, and deny and blaspheme God Himself, Sri Krishna. It's nothing but atheism at the core, but wrapped in the illusion of religion, and it's all man-made. If it was inspired by God then the conclusions wouldn't be all false. Then, in the epitome of shamefulness, they make every attempt to draw others into their erroneous beliefs. It is worse than overt atheism because they draw in the innocent who have some inclination to know God, but if by some good fortune they hear something about Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they turn away as if the Lord's name were poison. You personally did this to a degree that I had not seen before, much to my amazement. I cannot estimate the misfortune of Christians to be so mislead. I should take the advice of my spiritual master to heart and stop wasting so much of my time trying to save such bewildered opponents of God whose dismal fortune is apparent for many lives to come. Oh Gauranga!

Though I�ve exhausted my interest in Christianity, I want to add this last comment in support of my earlier statement distinguishing morals from ethics. I plugged the following into Google:
�ethics and morals� difference
and the following page appeared at the top:
http://www.metaethics.org/mtm/doc0831.html

�Systematizing and formalizing morals are the main objectives of science called ethics�Ethics is the study of morality as well as the standard set to foresee, observe, and practice such morality obtained as knowledge. Although both terms �moral� and �ethical� are often used at the same time and in the same context relating to particular entity in concern, such as in saying �moral conduct� and �ethical conduct,� or �moral thought� and �ethical thought,� morals cannot be understood unless learned as ethics�Ethics is action-based and action-oriented, whether it relates to one�s ethical belief, thought, or judgment, because it reflects morals by examining, understanding, and undertaking in what morals should be identified.�

That�s all. Goodbye.

Does any one have an engl translation of the Bhavishya Purana? Would really enjoy getting it.
Martin

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